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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

was not quite so wide as I had expected, it had boggy
banks. As there was still plenty of time before the
first race I was able to go about half-way round the
course before I joined the throng of people and
carriages on the hillside.

The course, though I was not aware of it at the
time, was one of the old-fashioned "sporting" type,
and these races had a strong similarity to the original
point-to-point which was run over a "natural" line
of country, where the riders were told to make their
way to some conspicuous point and back again as best
they could. The Harcombe course was "natural"
in so far as there were no flags stuck in the fences, a
fair proportion of which had been left in that state
which the farmer had allowed them to assume. This
type of course has now been almost universally
superseded by a much tamer arrangement where the
riders usually go twice round a few fields, jumping
about a dozen carefully made-up fences which can be
galloped over like hurdles.

On the cramped Harcombe course there were
nearly fiity obstacles to be surmounted, and most of
them were more suited to a clever hunter than to an
impetuous and "sketchy" jumper. Consequently
these races were slower and more eventful than the
scurrying performances which in most provincial
hunts are still called point-to-point races. A course
of the Harcombe type, though almost too interesting
for many of the riders, had grave disadvantages for
the spectators, who saw little except the start and
the finish* But the meeting had a distinctive character
of its own—the genuinely countrified flavour of a
gathering of local people.

When I arrived at the centre of operations the
farmers and puppy-walkers were emerging from the